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Conventions of Horror Film Trailers

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Emily Neal

on 16 October 2013

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Transcript of Conventions of Horror Film Trailers

Conventions of Horror Film Trailers
Music & Sound
Eerie music, slow tempo, high pitch and quiet dynamic to begin with.
Tempo of music increases as tension / action increases in the film.
Relaxing or cheerful music are typically used at the beginning then is interrupted suddenly to scare the audience.
Editing & Camera
Usually starts off with long camera shots with little use of cuts.
Fast-paced shots are used during violence / chase scenes so that the audience cannot get a clear idea about what is happening, increasing tension. The speed increases throughout the trailer until reaching the peak.
A diverse range of camera shots / angles are used.
Dead Black Outs (when the screen goes completely black) adds suspense and anticipation. It can also represent the end of something thrilling.

Setting & Colour
Many horror films make use of pathetic fallacy, particularly using rain, storms etc to evoke a "gloomy" feel.
Rural locations are often used to make the victims isolated, increasing danger and fear.
Dark colour is frequent in horror films, including frequent use of shadows. The antagonist usually wears black which represents death.
Voice-overs & On-screen text
The use of voice-overs is quite common in horror film trailers. They are typically used at the beginning of a trailer to explain the narrative / context of the film. The use of a child's voice is quite common as it gives an eerie effect.

Straps are used to inform the viewer of important information or revelations, such as context, the name of the film and the cast.
Other Conventions
A Unique Selling Point (USP) makes a particular horror film stand out from other films of the same genre. For example, the trailer of Paranormal Activity shows the audience's reaction which is unconventional.
Example of cheerful music used at the beginning
"One Missed Call" is an example horror trailer, which makes use of Dead Black Outs.
The "Sting" is the final few shots shown after the title of the film right at the end of the trailer. It is usually the scariest part of the trailer as it aims to shock the audience. Typically before the sting, the music and pace of the trailer slows down so that the audience can relax, which exacerbates the shock that they get at the end.
"The Conjuring" is a good example of a sting being used at the end of the trailer.
Examples from "The Ring" trailer (2002)
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